May 15th, 2012
05:39 PM ET
My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality
Editor's note: Daniel A. Helminiak, who was ordained a priest in Rome, is a theologian, psychotherapist and author of “What the Bible Really Says about homosexuality" and books on contemporary spirituality. He is a professor of psychology at the University of West Georgia.
By Daniel A. Helminiak, Special to CNN
President Barack Obama’s support of same-sex marriage, like blood in the water, has conservative sharks circling for a kill. In a nation that touts separation of religion and government, religious-based arguments command this battle. Lurking beneath anti-gay forays, you inevitably find religion and, above all, the Bible.
We now face religious jingoism, the imposition of personal beliefs on the whole pluralistic society. Worse still, these beliefs are irrational, just a fiction of blind conviction. Nowhere does the Bible actually oppose homosexuality.
In the past 60 years, we have learned more about sex, by far, than in preceding millennia. Is it likely that an ancient people, who thought the male was the basic biological model and the world flat, understood homosexuality as we do today? Could they have even addressed the questions about homosexuality that we grapple with today? Of course not.
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Hard evidence supports this commonsensical expectation. Taken on its own terms, read in the original languages, placed back into its historical context, the Bible is ho-hum on homosexuality, unless – as with heterosexuality – injustice and abuse are involved.
That, in fact, was the case among the Sodomites (Genesis 19), whose experience is frequently cited by modern anti-gay critics. The Sodomites wanted to rape the visitors whom Lot, the one just man in the city, welcomed in hospitality for the night.
The Bible itself is lucid on the sin of Sodom: pride, lack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49); hatred of strangers and cruelty to guests (Wisdom 19:13); arrogance (Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 16:8); evildoing, injustice, oppression of the widow and orphan (Isaiah 1:17); adultery (in those days, the use of another man’s property), and lying (Jeremiah 23:12).
But nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom. That intended gang rape only expressed the greater sin, condemned in the Bible from cover to cover: hatred, injustice, cruelty, lack of concern for others. Hence, Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31); and “By this will they know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).
How inverted these values have become! In the name of Jesus, evangelicals and Catholic bishops make sex the Christian litmus test and are willing to sacrifice the social safety net in return.
The longest biblical passage on male-male sex is Romans 1:26-27: "Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another."
The Greek term para physin has been translated unnatural; it should read atypical or unusual. In the technical sense, yes, the Stoic philosophers did use para physin to mean unnatural, but this term also had a widespread popular meaning. It is this latter meaning that informs Paul's writing. It carries no ethical condemnation.
Compare the passage on male-male sex to Romans 11:24. There, Paul applies the term para physin to God. God grafted the Gentiles into the Jewish people, a wild branch into a cultivated vine. Not your standard practice! An unusual thing to do — atypical, nothing more. The anti-gay "unnatural" hullabaloo rests on a mistranslation.
Besides, Paul used two other words to describe male-male sex: dishonorable (1:24, 26) and unseemly (1:27). But for Paul, neither carried ethical weight. In 2 Corinthians 6:8 and 11:21, Paul says that even he was held in dishonor — for preaching Christ. Clearly, these words merely indicate social disrepute, not truly unethical behavior.
In this passage Paul is referring to the ancient Jewish Law: Leviticus 18:22, the “abomination” of a man’s lying with another man. Paul sees male-male sex as an impurity, a taboo, uncleanness — in other words, “abomination.” Introducing this discussion in 1:24, he says so outright: "God gave them up … to impurity."
But Jesus taught lucidly that Jewish requirements for purity — varied cultural traditions — do not matter before God. What matters is purity of heart.
“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles,” reads Matthew 15. “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”
Or again, Jesus taught, “Everyone who looks at a women with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus rejected the purity requirements of the Jewish Law.
In calling it unclean, Paul was not condemning male-male sex. He had terms to express condemnation. Before and after his section on sex, he used truly condemnatory terms: godless, evil, wicked or unjust, not to be done. But he never used ethical terms around that issue of sex.
As for marriage, again, the Bible is more liberal than we hear today. The Jewish patriarchs had many wives and concubines. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and Daniel and the palace master were probably lovers.
The Bible’s Song of Songs is a paean to romantic love with no mention of children or a married couple. Jesus never mentioned same-sex behaviors, although he did heal the “servant” — pais, a Greek term for male lover — of the Roman Centurion.
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Paul discouraged marriage because he believed the world would soon end. Still, he encouraged people with sexual needs to marry, and he never linked sex and procreation.
Were God-given reason to prevail, rather than knee-jerk religion, we would not be having a heated debate over gay marriage. “Liberty and justice for all,” marvel at the diversity of creation, welcome for one another: these, alas, are true biblical values.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Daniel A. Helminiak.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
Well, you're so dumb that you can't even figure out how to reply to comments...hahahaha
May 16, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
Actually, if you don't have faith, you won't be able to hinge prayer on resolving anything. Out of faith comes the ability to connect with God, and hence prayer becomes just one possible link with God. You can't expect prayer to work if you don't have faith. I disagree, it's you who doesn't understand. Of course, I don't expect an atheist to understand.
Faith, it's what every belief and every believer rely on.. It works equally well for the Muslim, Hindu, and Jew.. It's good enough for me and you.. It's all we have to doooo.. So too da- looo..Cause without faith you're skrew-ew-wed!
Understand fake prayer? That is like understanding unicorns...or dragons. They're not real. Just like your religion and your power of prayer.
the problem is not that (your words) that atheists cant/wont understand IS NOT THE PROBLEM....It's because your have given the burden of proof of any existence to a God and that prayer works.
The bible is nothing but a bunch of made-up B.S. believed by ignorants and exploited by scoundrels to make money off the moron majority.
I guess we need to take that water purification system back that we installed for those Haitians, being greedy Christians and all.
Don't be stupid, Scott.
It is hilarious to see a self-proclaimed atheist behave so emotionally about the Bible and religion. If your disbelief were so all-encompassing, you wouldn't give this discussion any notice.
If your religion could actually prove that it is correct, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
You have that right xirume and i pray to my God that He call you and His peace overtakes you and you are filled with the fruit of His Spirit.
Observer, I pray God's love and peace will be revealed to you and He will call you to himself for you are fearfully and wonderfully made in His eyes.
Wow, the abuse opinion writers take. Who cares the man is an ordained priest, he wrote an opinion peice. Who cares that he obviously carefully researched this, the bible is the truth. But of course by bible here what we really mean is the populist opinion of the uninformed and such translations through the many years since the bible was written. The man went back to the greek versions, as close as we get to the original these days. And all we get on here in the comments section is close mindededness about how the bible is always correct.
Was I the only one to read the byline and figure out that an ordained priest is giving us his informed opinion from a much earlier version of the bible? I guess my layman's opinion is so informed I don't even need guidance anymore. I'll just make up whatever I want and say it's from the bible.
This is a great article, but it will be totally lost on those who actually need to read it and understand it. First, most people who call themselves "conservatives" aren't intelligent enough to actually understand the scholarly approach to understanding the Bible.
Second, people who consider themselves "conservative" are proud of the fact that their minds cannot ever be changed. No amount of evidence or logic can sway them from their backwardness. Every scholar and scientist in the world can tell them the universal truths of the world, and they will still cling to the notion that they know more about the world than God does.
Third, and most important, the "conservatives" can only exist if they have hatred at their core. They cannot exist in a world where everyone is accepted and where everyone is equal. When you have that pathological need to hate another group, nothing will ever change your mind.
Remember, the exact same arguments can be made against gays today that were made against women and persons of color in the past. If you do not hold the same prejudices toward women and persons of color that your ancestors did, then why do you feel the need to cling to hatred of gays? Oh, wait, it's because people like that NEED someone to hate, or else their own lives or meaningless. Sorry, I forgot that part.
People of color and women are a natural creation.PS just looked in my Crayola box and it says white is a color
skin color and womanhood or manhood is determined by the physical biological assets and can not be changed without creating something strange.
The incapacity of supposed gay rights activists to make cogent arguements based on the naturalness of their actions is like drones fighting for the right to live when the queen has mated with the one alpha male. It doesn't make natural sense. Biologists are just afraid of social consequences.
Speaking of "natural sense", h0mos-xuality exists in nature. Ooops.
So do incest and cannibalism. Existence in nature is hardly a measure of benefit to society. If you want to debate gay marriage as a societal benefit, that's fine.
Scott, don't be stupid..
Observer, no it doesn't!!!
The Bible is irrelevant, if for no other reason than this: We in present-d ay America were never its many authors intended audience. Don't forget, according to the Bible, the world, which was flat, was coming to an end 2000 years ago.
Where is this in the Bible? In particular the New Testiment or the book of Rev.
The Bible doesn't teach that the world is flat or that the end is 2000 A.D. In fact, in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah 40:22 it says that God sits above the circle (the literal Hebrew word is "sphere") of the earth.
Take a look at my Internet sites: The Science Supporting Creation, Natural Limits of Evolution, War Among Evolutionists. Conservative Theologian No Longer Believes Eternal Torment.
Babu G. Ranganathan
When Jesus preached "The Kingdom of God" he was referring to the End Times. He was an apocalyptic. He was wrong. In order to cover this up, the End Times have been postponed indefinitely, and the doctrine of the second coming of Jesus was invented.
Babu G. Ranganathan,
A circle is a flat 2-dimensional object. The Bible is wrong no matter what interpretation.
YBP, He is talking about when we pray, sing praise, preach and teach the Word, God comes into our hearts and is with us. There is no end time with God, He is eternal just like our spirits are and it is our choice that will determine where we will spend our eternity.
The Hebrew word is not sphere, it is circle. A circle is not a sphere. The Bible uses the Babylonian world model. Flat and round like a coin with a dome over it.
Wrong, you don't know the interpretation. Jesus said many things would have to happen and that no one know when the hour is but the Father.
Sorry you are not correct.
So Leviticu 18:22 was cited, but it still doesn't change my intial post.
Leviticus 20:9 says "If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death;”
So what was your point, if any?
Lets see what Sharia Law says about it
Leigh2, before you assume, read the studies. Not the studies which are paid for by religious organizations (which promote bias), but read the studies who are attempting to find the truth. Prayer does not work. People who pray vs people who are complete atheists are healed at the same rate, win the lottery at the same rate, get jobs at the same rate, have the same rate of pregnancy complications....the list goes on and on. It has NO effect. But let's not point out the positive correlation between intelligence and not having faith....
Why does my having faith bother you so much? You shouldn't be so troubled by it, but by the way you go on about me and my faith in Christ you are. Again, exactly why is that? If I'm that stupid, as you say, you wouldn't waste one minute on posting anything to me. Maybe it's you who needs to do some 'soul searching' to find out what 'truth' is.
Well, you're so dumb that you can't even figure out how to reply to comments...hahahaha
And judging by the spelling of your name, Leigh instead of Lee, that you are female. And if that is the case, please read Timothy 2:12. You are forbidden to voice your opinion according to your beloved bible.
Actually, Leigh, I think the thing that tends to tick people off is the appearance that maybe you are being a tad judgmental against a group of people who are, in general, kind, caring, loving and giving individuals. There is a frustration that people who believe in God seem to refuse to believe that if there is a God, He would be the author of all science. Therefore, the refusal to believe the empiric data that would indicate that ho mo se x u ality is normal for a significant portion of the society seems, in the eyes of many, to be in conflict with a true belief in God......and simply a justification for bigotry and prejudice. For many, that is appalling – even for believers such as myself.
Thank you "be" for being a voice of reason for your side
For explanation of the mistranslated Timothy verse see http://christianfeminism.wordpress.com/2008/07/04/the-mistranslation-of-1-timothy-211-12/
Another horrible artical, this idiot that wrote this blog left out verses that say its a Abomination before God and also if a man lays with another man as a woman he is to be slain, only true Bible students can rip this Artical to shreds.
Perhaps because St Paul claimed that the Hebrew Scriptures had been abrogated by the words and deeds of Jesus.
How can you read Bible but can't spell Article one time correctly
Good job changing the argument becasue of my spelling proves you just got owned.
Some "student" you are since you don't bother citing your sources; let's just pull "facts" out of thin air!
The Bible says that h0mos-xuality is an abomination, like eating lobster.
Divorcing and remarrying is a Ten Commandment SIN.
There are FAR FAR more Christian adulterers than there are total number of gays.
Actually he tackled that exact quote in the article. Please read it again.
And how many young minds has this man defiled???
How convenient to omit Leviticus 18: 22, "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is abomination." Disgusting to God, yes. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them". Genesis 1:27. This behavior was an abomination to God when he gave this word and it is an abominaton to him now because he does not change. The sinful nature of man has not changed and the heart of God towards his creation has not changed. God loves his creation but does not love the sinful nature of his creation. That is why the plan of salvation has existed from the beginning. It is the grace of God, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ that stays the wrath of God in these last days. God is a God of mercy, love, and kindness. I have experieced all of these attributes through 3 attacks of cancer and live to testify to his presence as I walked through "the valley of the shadow of death", feeling his hand and hearing his voice. For those who choose not to believe, that is your choice; however, your choice to not believe does not negate his existence and you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt when life is over and you're staring eternity in the face. Seek the Lord while he may be found for tomorrow belongs to no one. There is not a man alive who is too hard for God!
Moron.. If we're going by Leviticus then we should be beating our slaves and stoning our disobedient children.. Why havent' you been stoning to death all those people that work on the Sabbath?? Why aren't you doing what your god commands you to do in Leviticus?
Quit drinking so much Kool-Aid. You are sick.
– Leviticus 20:9 says "If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death;”
So what was your point, if any?
So by that thread of thinking, if we wrote a book that said "So Hepzibah created the robots in his own image," that would mean 2000 years from now you would be hailed as the god of the robots, and the book would be their bible, right?
ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:
Ho-mose-xuality in the 21st century:
"Abrahamics" believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the g-ay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied ho-mo-se-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore ga-ys are ga-y because god made them that way.
o The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:
“ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice. "
"Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8
See also the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”
Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions supposedly abide by the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.
And because of basic biology differences said monogamous ventures should always be called same-se-x unions not same-se-x marriages.
From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, ga-y s-exual activity is still mutual mas-turbation caused by one or more complex s-exual differences. Some differences are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell.
CNN has been my source for news since CNN's coverage of the first Iraqi invasion – news reporting that was second to none. Perhaps, I should seek another news source – I do not appreciate being subjected to this type of garbage.
LOL CNN "subjected" you to "this garbage?" LOLOL!! What, they made you click on the link and then read it and then click another button and then type words and then click another button.. LOL!!
Are you retarded, it devoid of all logic?
***************** Maybe you should mind keeping your own porch swept clean before going after mine. Just saying.
Did you ever study basic English??
Shocking how an ordained priest (supposedly) can twist the plain meaning of the biblical text. Sure, some individual words can be translated as he says perhaps, but even with those changes the original intent of the passages he quotes is barely affected at all. This is the worst effort to prove something via scripture that I've seen in a long time. Sheesh!
And your degree in theology is from where?
Wow, the plain meaning? there is nothing plain about the bible. There have been wars fought over the meanings of words in translations.
Marriage is one of the most natural behaviours of man common to several mammals where the male gender seeks to mark his territory where he procreates with particular females. We take an intellectual approach but same principle. Check marriage laws carefully. As I said its just silly to call me names
Keep religious beliefs in the church...there was more respect when churches fed the hungry and sheltered the homeless.
For all Atheists, your very reasons for not believing in God (reasoning, scientific proof, laws of probability, etc...) actually tell you that you should believe in God. Google the term "Pascal Wager" and you will see why the basis of your arguments of denying God's existence are actually counter intuitive and are not as "common sense" as all atheist believe they are.
I don't know about you, but my bet is on God's existence I proclaim Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. I'm willing to die with those words in my mouth. It is the best bet anyone can make, anyone....
Pascal's Wager is fvcking retarded.. Look up the rebuttals to it.. There's several good ones.. What makes you think that a disgusting god like yours would make good on a bet like that anyway?!?
Much of the Bible is in conflict with science and reasoning. Please tell us all about talking serpents and unicorns. There is extra credit for the Noah's Ark story.
Minotaur male or female
They had fire Kush like me .my bad momoya male or female keep getting you abominations mixed up
I'm with ou NCAS..........100%
Hooray for you! Why do you care if others don't believe? Does that shake your belief?
So your faith is only because it's the best "bet" as you see it? Either you have faith or you don't. Saying you beleive in something because it's the best bet is lip service at best.
Having just completed 5 semesters of study of Koine Greek at the graduate level, I will simply say that his exegesis is incorrect. Just plain factually wrong. Great example of eisegesis though!
Maybe, but who cares?? What do you think about the gay situation?
I'm puking no wait I see a womans breast mmmmmm
Congrats for wasting 5 semesters of your life
What I think really doesn't matter. There are somethings we can say God hasn't made himself completely clear about yet, this however is not one of them.
Yeah like his existence. I like how he can't prove that.
@Bama. Go back to your cave.
No caves down here nice oily beaches you won't need any lube
Apparently all that oil has affected your brain–not in a good way!
Sunburn on your redneck Bama? Seek shade under your aluminum awning.